Backup Game Day Is Back…The Transformation Continues

Heidi Biggar

Heidi Biggar

Marketing and IT Consultant, Data Protection and Availability Division
I’m often asked how a political science major at Tufts wound up in the IT world, covering backup, storage, virtualization and cloud of all things. Truth is, it’s really a love for learning, a need to understand the “bigger picture” and a desire to share that view with others that’s steered my path over the past 20 years, from campaign manager to editor, analyst and marketer. After hours, you’ll find me hanging with family, running 10ks through Peachtree City’s 90 miles of cart paths, watching football or reading. I’m a New England transplant enjoying life in the South. In my previous life, I also blogged for ComputerWorld, Enterprise Strategy Group and Hitachi Data Systems, but The Backup Window is my baby. It's been great watching it evolve.

How do you turn backup and recovery into an offensive strategy that delivers game-changing business results?

More than 4,000 of you tuned in last fall to hear the first part of the story, and on Monday, March 11, we’re back with the second chapter.

Backup Game II is all about giving application owners, end user and other stockholders, the visibility and control of the backup process they need to accelerate business.

You’ll learn:

  • Why federated management services are critical to backup transformation
  • How data protection management can help you improve service levels, lower costs, and avoid problems
  • How to manage backup at scale–simply and efficiently
  • How to deliver backup in an IT as a service model
  • How the completely redesigned EMC Data Protection Advisor 6 will help you go from vision to execution.

Register today, or catch us real-time Monday. It will be 30-minutes well spent.

Oh, and by the way, TBW bloggers Tom Giuliano, Michael Wilke, Caitlin Gordon and I will be on-line during the event.  So don’t forget to say hello.

Help, I Need Somebody… to Manage My Backups

Tom Giuliano

Tom Giuliano

Marketer and EMC Data Protection Advisor Expert
I love to listen to customers discuss their data protection challenges, their experiences and their needs, and I’ve had a lot of opportunity to do it. For the past 15 years, I’ve brought network and storage products to market through roles in sales, product management and marketing. When I’m not driving go-to-market initiatives, identifying unique and creative methods to build product awareness or launching products, you’ll likely find me cycling, skiing, boating or running. And, who knows, maybe you’ll hear some of my more interesting experiences in one of my posts from time to time.

By Tom Giuliano, Senior Product Marketing Manager, EMC Backup Recovery Systems

Help, I need somebody,
Help, not just anybody,
Help, you know I need someone, help.

When I was younger, so much younger than today,
I never needed anybody’s help in any way.
But now these days are gone, I’m not so self assured,
Now I find I’ve changed my mind and opened up the doors….

Okay, I admit, it…this passage probably won’t mean much to you if you aren’t a Beatles fan, particularly of their 1965 song “Help”, which has been described as the “first crack in the protective shell” John Lennon had built around his emotions during the Beatles’ rise to fame.

So what does this song have to do with backups and confidence in data protection?  I’m glad you asked.  The parallel I’m attempting to make here is that from an IT organization perspective, the way backups and data protection are viewed today is dramatically different than it was a few years ago.  No, I’m not talking backing up data in 1965….  But, a just few years ago we had fewer backup options, less data and smaller environments, and less cost, relatively anyway.  IT organizations could handle all backup processes themselves.  It was still hard work, but it was manageable.  Fast forward to today – we have explosive data growth, many data protection solutions and options, and pervasive virtualization.  IT organizations need help.

Quite often, small and medium sized organizations simply aren’t equipped to efficiently manage all the components across an expanding data protection environment.  Even large IT organizations may notice that things aren’t getting done well, assets are poorly utilized, there’s poor compliance, etc.  This is exactly why many companies look to experts to help manage and report on their backups.  I’m talking about managed service providers.

Sure, service providers often use the same backup products as many IT organizations.  And in many cases, a greater variety of them to ensure the use cases for EVERY one of their customers are met.  They can effectively and efficiently share resources across customers, or carve off a cluster for a high-demand customer.  And scale – oh the scale.  Service providers should be able to add capacity (and customers) on the fly as data grows.  They should also provide monitoring and reporting of status for all the services they provide to their customers, even offering their customers the ability to access and run reports of IT services provided.

And now my life has changed in oh so many ways,
My independence seems to vanish in the haze.
But every now and then I feel so insecure,
I know that I just need you like I’ve never done before….

So how do service providers achieve this omnipotent, almost holy, IT provider status?  Well, first of all they are VERY, VERY, VERY good at what they do.  That’s why they are experts at providing Backup-as-a-Service.  They also have an ace in the hole, a secret weapon of sorts.  In addition to using the industry’s best backup and recovery solutions, service providers have access to data protection management tools to centralize and unify information across the environment, saving significant time, effort and money.  One such tool is EMC Data Protection Advisor

Help me if you can, I’m feeling down,
And I do appreciate you being round.
Help me, get my feet back on the ground,
Won’t you please, please help me, help me, help me, oh…

Data Protection Advisor (DPA) enables service providers and IT organizations to visualize data protection success, utilization efficiency, and infrastructure component status across the environment through built-in and customizable reports.  Through policy-based protection, DPA provides an automated alert to administrators should something go wrong, or if it’s starting to go off track.  You see, DPA is proactive, and will notify you if it calculates that you will run out of capacity in, say, 3 months on your current consumption rate.  DPA also offers chargeback so IT organizations can actually make money from data protection.

Now, imagine (yeah, that’s another John Lennon reference…) if you had real-time monitoring and analytics, unified visibility and comprehensive reporting for the entire data protection environment.  Imagine never worrying about the status of data protection or providing (or receiving) a specific service level.  Imagine never worrying about proving compliance or that unexpected audit.  Imagine knowing that all this information is just a click away.  No worries.  Ever.

You may say
I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one.

Service providers offering Backup-as-a-Service are there to help make this a reality.  Those service providers with a tool like Data Protection Advisor make it an easy decision.


How to Make Money from Data Protection

Tom Giuliano

Tom Giuliano

Marketer and EMC Data Protection Advisor Expert
I love to listen to customers discuss their data protection challenges, their experiences and their needs, and I’ve had a lot of opportunity to do it. For the past 15 years, I’ve brought network and storage products to market through roles in sales, product management and marketing. When I’m not driving go-to-market initiatives, identifying unique and creative methods to build product awareness or launching products, you’ll likely find me cycling, skiing, boating or running. And, who knows, maybe you’ll hear some of my more interesting experiences in one of my posts from time to time.

By Tom Giuliano, Senior Product Marketing Manager, EMC Backup Recovery Systems Division

Data protection is like insurance – throw money at the chance that something will go wrong and hope that it doesn’t. But, with cloud computing models and the growing relevance of IT-as-a-service, data protection can make money for the business as well as contribute to the value of the data center.

Because most organizations leverage multiple technologies and associated element managers to protect application data, an effective data protection management strategy is required to manage the data storage environment.   Without this strategy it would be very challenging to apply a uniform chargeback to these mixed systems.  The result is that you have lots of disparate information about different components, making it difficult to measure the utilization and adherence to service levels across your infrastructure.  Many organizations faced with this challenge are forced to either apply a one-size-fits-all approach to chargeback or not apply chargeback at all.

Without a means to manage chargeback levels, the business value of IT cannot be measured.  And, even worse, you are in effect leaving money on the table.  As IT transitions to a private cloud model, it needs a way to evaluate and implement effective ways to measure and gauge data protection services across the environment. What data center managers need are tools which distinguish between service levels offered to the organization, as well as to justify and apply chargeback to individual business units for those services.

The goal is to get to a point where data protection is offered as a service, and there are three primary challenges on that journey:  rapid data growth, heterogeneous systems which lead to protection silos, and virtualization.

First, data growth is overtaxing traditional data protection approaches and technologies, leading to increased uncertainty about protection status.  Without the capability to measure data protection processes per user or business unit means there is no way to gauge use or forecast growth.  What happens is infrastructure is either over- or under-utilized.  And, without standardized metrics, data center managers cannot identify and rationalize data protection investments.

Referring back to earlier comments regarding the use of multiple technologies and tactics to protect data and to provide different service levels, organizations may use local backups or replication for operational recovery, off-site replication for disaster recovery, and archiving used for longer-term data retention.  Applying a common method to charge for delivered services across these silos of data protection is difficult at best.

And lastly, the unavoidable shift from dedicated physical to shared virtual server infrastructures in many data centers creates challenges, because in a virtual world, virtual machines are quickly created, deleted, and moved around as needed.  The processes and technologies for chargeback that worked well in a static, physical environment may not be the most effective in a dynamic virtual environment.  The result is uncertainty in applying consistent costs toward protecting and recovering business critical data.  And that’s on top of the added cost and complexity of sustaining multiple data protection systems.

Winning implementations of chargeback and show-back, the ability to measure and show use without cross-charging, enable IT to apply a uniform set of metrics across all data protection environment components.  Administrators can then leverage service plans to establish rates and use those metrics to apply chargeback and show-back for the services they provided.

To effectively meter and apply chargeback, data protection management systems require three primary capabilities:  scalable central management, variable rate support, and the ability to analyze and view historical data.

Regardless of whether the environment leverages a private, public or hybrid cloud model, the data protection management solution needs to scale out to support internal and external multi-tenant environments as more and more customers are added.  This includes customers with complicated billing requirements, which would entail chargeback, and at the same time providing tailored views into data protection via show-back.  So, to get to scalable metering, the data protection management system needs to unify chargeback policies applied to the usage data for the entire data protection environment.  Automated data collection needs to feed a central analytics engine and enable the establishment of different policies for different infrastructure.

Administrators need control over configuring chargeback cost monitoring.  They will also need the ability to create separate fees for cost per backup, replication, and archive activity.  The cost monitoring capability should include three modes: a single usage fee per activity, cost per capacity retained, and cost per capacity restored.  The system must be able to apply a real-time common cost methodology, with the ability to assign rates to different services, and use these rates for chargeback and show-back of services delivered to different types of users or business units.

Standard chargeback reports must automate data collection and analysis for administrators.  Otherwise, administrators would have to manually pull data together from different systems into spreadsheets, which is a time-consuming process and prone to error. Historical chargeback views are needed to provide insight into trends and analytics that would otherwise be difficult to measure using separate systems. Historical views and trending also provide insight into data protection capacity planning.

Now, imagine the value of having a single user interface in which administrators can view all components and policies for their heterogeneous environment.  Imagine providing users with a self-service portal to available data protection as classes of services.  Then imagine having the ability to drive chargeback on any number of metrics and to send output directly into billing systems.  You’d have a data center that can actually make money!!

Data protection management solutions such as EMC Data Protection Advisor enable administrators to establish and apply a uniform set of metrics across all data protection components (e.g. backup replication, archive).  Then, they can build service plans which allow administrators to apply rates to each of the service plans.  And then they can leverage these metrics to apply chargeback and show-back for delivered services.  Game.  Set.  Match.  No more money left on the table.

VMworld 2012: A Backup & Recovery Preview

Alex Almeida

Alex Almeida

Technology Evangelist, Data Protection and Availability Division
My passion for technology started at an early age and has never stopped. Today, I find myself immersed in data protection. Yep, I live, breathe and tweet backup, availability and archive. In fact, nothing short of fully understanding how things work will keep me from digging deeper. But when I’m not evangelizing on the benefits of backup or technology in general, I can be spotted at a New England Revolution game, behind the lens of a camera or listening to my favorite albums on vinyl. In addition to blogging for The Protection Continuum, you can find me on the EMC Community Network. Also, I'm a member of EMC Elect 2014, and I'm active in the New England VMware User Group (NEVMUG) and the Virtualization Technology User Group (VTUG). Let's get technical!

With all the rest of the VMworld preview posts out there, I wanted to take a moment to throw one more preview into the bucket. This preview however is directed at all of those who will be attending VMworld and have a liking for Backup & Recovery. Ok fine…. I understand there may be just twenty of you, but in any case, this blog is for you! ;)

Here is listing of some events and sessions that will most likely contain Backup & Recovery content. Just a keep in mind for the sessions, some may already be full and or filling up, so make sure to build your VMworld schedule ASAP. And since I just looked at the calendar, I hope some of you already have started packing! Cause I just realized there are ONLY 4 Days Left!

GS02 – Delivering The Promise of a Software Defined Data Center

Tuesday 8:30 – 10:00

As far as keynotes at VMworld 2012, clearly, one should attend Paul Maritz’s session, but another session which will peak the interest of those responsible for executing on the IT transformation journey is Steve Herrod’s Keynote (@herrod). In this session Steve brings some of the biggest VMware Partners on stage to demonstrate how the Software Defined Data Center is becoming a reality.  This session will feature a demo from EMC, featuring Chad Sakac.

SS1010 – Cloud Transforms IT. Trust Transforms Cloud. Big Data Transforms Business

Tuesday 2:00 – 3:00 PM

Jeremy Burton, EMC’s head of Product Operations and Marketing will be covering in this SuperSession, the latest on EMC’s vast portfolio of products and how we are continuing to build momentum and innovation in driving products to market that truly help customers such as yourself in transforming your IT operations. I can also let you in on a little secret to this presentation. Expect a visit on stage from our very own Mike Zolla (@mikezolla). When Mike has something to say, you definitely don’t want to miss it!

SPO3338 – The Latest in IT Transformation with EMC and VMware

Wednesday 3:30 – 4:30 PM

Chad Sakac (@sakacc) who we all know in the blogosphere as “virtualgeek” will present this session. I have worked with Chad on some of the content for this session, and can guarantee that it will include the popular “facemelting awesomesauce!” content that typically comes with a Chad Sakac production. Don’t want to miss this!

On top of these great sessions and keynotes we will have various experts for Backup & Recovery in the EMC booth we will have a dedicated pod specifically for Backup Topics. So be sure to stop by Booth #1203 and converse with us on your VMware backup challenges. I will be there through various times throughout the week. But I especially wanted to point out our Social Meetup/Tweetup @ the EMC Booth on Monday 12:00PM! Make sure to stop by then and meet the bloggers and social personalities from The Backup Window!

Also, if you are more interested in getting a first hand experience on EMC Backup Technology in action, be sure to spend a good amount of time in our Interactive Demo Booth #229 where we will have the “Greatest Hits” from the EMC World HoLs available throughout the show for you to experience first hand! We will also have backup subject matter experts on hand to guide you through labs and discuss your implementation.

So with 3 days left until we take to the air, road, or rail, I am sure we all have last minute things to take care of and pack before making the trek, so I will keep this brief. But, stay tuned to The Backup Window for detailed posts and re-caps during the show from all of us on the EMC Backup & Recovery Team!

See you all in San Fran!

How Prepared Are You?

Tom Giuliano

Tom Giuliano

Marketer and EMC Data Protection Advisor Expert
I love to listen to customers discuss their data protection challenges, their experiences and their needs, and I’ve had a lot of opportunity to do it. For the past 15 years, I’ve brought network and storage products to market through roles in sales, product management and marketing. When I’m not driving go-to-market initiatives, identifying unique and creative methods to build product awareness or launching products, you’ll likely find me cycling, skiing, boating or running. And, who knows, maybe you’ll hear some of my more interesting experiences in one of my posts from time to time.

By Tom Giuliano, Senior Product Marketing Manager, EMC Backup Recovery Systems Division

Accidents will happen if you ride long enough. The question is, are you prepared for one?

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m an avid cyclist.  I started road racing at a fairly young age with a local team, and in the course of our training and races we routinely found ourselves screaming down hills in tightly packed groups at over 50 MPH.  We endured plenty of close calls with potholes, fences, curbs and the occasional dog crossing the road.  The interesting part is that we often rode without helmets.

Looking back it was pretty scary.  I luckily only got hurt once during a race (well, after the race on the way back to the team bus….).  A drunk driver cut me off.  Big dent in his car (compliments of my knee), big scar on my chin, some road rash…you get the picture.  That wasn’t supposed to happen.  He wasn’t supposed to be there.  I have no idea how my head didn’t contact something hard enough to break it!

So why am I telling you this story?  Well, we rode without helmets (read: protection) because, in some cases, we simply ignored the risk and hoped for the best.  Besides, helmets in the mid-1980’s were ugly and heavy.  But, that one time where fate (or just bad luck) caught up with me, I sure wished I had had that extra bit of protection (and had worn that helmet!)

OK, enough bicycling background….why the painful trip down memory lane and, more importantly, why did I take on such an unacceptable level of risk?  The answer is simple:  I was young and arrogant and thought nothing could happen to me.   Until that unfortunate incident I didn’t fully comprehend the dangers and the resultant impacts.

With age (and experience) comes wisdom.  Today I see backup and recovery and storage administrators regularly skirting a similar risk.  They are riding their rapidly growing, changing, virtualized data protection environments full of business-critical data without a helmet (yep, I’m talking about extra protection here).  Sure, they can try to get by using the limited, built-in reporting functions in their one or two backup applications to check that nothing bad happened.  But, at the same time, environments continue to increase in complexity, and IT professionals are charged with managing all the disparate components and delivering IT as a service while ensuring everything is working and performing as expected for their customers.

The questions IT professionals need to ask themselves include, “Do I have the comprehensive, environment-wide visibility I need?”  Can I meet my SLA’s?” “What is my critical data exposure and is my data safe and recoverable?”  And possibly the most important overall question is, “Do I understand the risk associated with my data protection environment, and what am I doing about it?”

With today’s complex environments it’s virtually impossible to manually see into every facet of every component to ensure it’s performing as it should all the time.  And without that comprehensive visibility there’s inherent risk.  That’s why we have data protection management solutions such as EMC Data Protection Advisor.

Data Protection Advisor (DPA) enables IT professionals to prove protection through real-time views of the entire backup and recovery environment.  This helps IT professionals to understand potential risks and exposures in data protection strategies across multiple backup products and domains.  Advanced fault diagnosis and complete control over report intervals makes users aware of possible recovery exposure before disaster occurs.

Extensive reporting in DPA helps ensure that established backup SLA’s are being met.   IT professionals and their customers can quickly identify areas of success, providing peace of mind that a system is working, applications are recoverable, and data is safe.  And, DPA reduces all the complexity with a single console to provide an integrated, automated view to allow companies to lower costs through the improved use of their infrastructure, avoiding unnecessary purchases and reducing manual effort.

And unlike the ugly and heavy biking helmets 20+ years ago, data protection management solutions like Data Protection Advisor are sleek and user-friendly for IT professionals and their customers.

Of course, I didn’t give up on cycling after that early evening crash.  Heck, I was at the bike shop building up a new ride the day after (stitches, bruises and all).  Again, I was lucky to have avoided a complete catastrophe that time.  Other than the cost of my bike, some medical bills and some scars, the only long-term impact was that I’d learned a painful lesson.  In my case the accident didn’t result in a missed SLA or loss of business critical data, or my job.

Looking back I wish I’d had that extra bit of protection in case I needed it.  I ALWAYS wear a helmet today – in my eyes there’s no such thing as being too prepared or having too much protection.